This publication presents data on the impact of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, particularly Harris County, in the form of illustrated maps. It provides data down to the census tract level, with a focus on the intersection of social vulnerability and flooding
In the coming years Texas and Florida will rebuild what was devastated by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, giving rise to the possibility of rebuilding resiliently and preparing communities for the next disaster. Green infrastructure is one way of achieving this resilience, with the ability to manage storm water as well as improve air quality.
In 2016, billions of dollars were allocated for flood-related disasters in the United States. Still, mitigation projects to better prepare cities like Houston for disasters were rejected as they were considered too expensive. Congress can be part of a solution to this problem by passing legislation that enables mitigation projects, which in the long run will save money.
While up to 75 percent of homes with mortgages in high-risk flood areas have mandatory flood insurance, only between 20 and 30 percent of the homes without a mortgage, which is not mandatory, is insured. Research shows that this is due to several factors, including people ignoring low-probability risks. A solution to this might be to extend the mandatory requirement.
While the National Flood Insurance Program offers what amounts to subsidized coverage, it has had the perverse effect of encouraging rebuilding in areas where homes and businesses probably should not have been built in the first place.
The damage of Hurricane Harvey has brought attention to urban sprawl in Houston. The paving over of large tracts of natural habitat often means draining wetlands, building impervious surfaces and generally reshaping the landscape. Scientists and urban planners say this very human activity can worsen natural disasters and make it more difficult for cities to recover.